After being swept by Florida Wednesday, Auburn was hoping for a different outcome in its second match with the Gators but fell short again in another three-set sweep on Thursday.
Even after being swept, head coach Brent Crouch feels his team improved in their second match against Florida.
“It was better in a bunch of areas,” Crouch said. “We held them to a lower hitting efficiency than yesterday, and we certainly touched a lot more balls blocking. We practiced that before the match, so it was a really nice step forward on the defensive side.”
Despite an improved defense, Florida, at one point, had an 11-point lead and was up 20-9. After a four-point scoring run by the Tigers, Florida scored the last five points to end the set.
Set one went to the Gators, with Auburn dropping the first set 25-14.
Despite the loss in set one, Auburn produced fewer errors than on Wednesday, with four errors in the opening set and 16 overall.
“We didn’t talk about bringing the errors down,” Crouch said. “We want to play an aggressive style of volleyball, and if you’re trying to learn how to do that, you have to be OK with the errors early on. I don’t want our team to play tentatively, and we will learn how to control it. The errors start taking care of themselves, the more skilled we get.”
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Auburn started the second set by scoring the first point, and the teams began trading points. Val Green led Auburn on Wednesday in kills but was quiet on Thursday until she got on the board, giving the Tigers a 9-7 lead. The Gators rallied and took their first lead of the game at 10-9, followed by a call that Florida’s head coach challenged, but the call stood, and the game was tied up again at 10-10.
After trading points back and forth, Florida took the lead at 15-14 and never lost it.
Although Auburn put up a fight, the Gators won the second set 25-19.
Set two saw Lauren Dorrell lead in kills for the Tigers with five, while Tatum Shipes was right behind her with four. Auburn committed six errors and had eight total kills, while Florida led the set with 13 kills and five errors.
Shipes shined in not only her hitting but also her back-row defense.
“Her floor defense was good in the back row, digging some hard-driven balls,” Crouch said. “We are doing a new defense where we have her standing in a different place than she was last year. We watched [last season] video with her today, and she stood there and took some really hard swings and dug them.”
Set three saw Florida take a 2-0 lead, which they never lost the entire set. A diving pancake by libero Peyton White was called down, but Auburn’s Crouch made the second challenge of the night, which went in his favor, causing a replay of the point.
After some long rallies and more point trading, Auburn fell short in the night's third and final set, with Florida winning 25-21.
“We are almost entirely focused on us right now," Crouch said. "About how to play the Auburn way, and it is entirely about that with almost no scouting report at all. It is still just laying the foundations for all areas. We need these long practices and to focus on all aspects of the game and to just keep grinding, taking one thing at a time.”
The Tigers will compete in their first road series next week as they will travel to Columbia, South Carolina, to take on the Gamecocks.
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